Legos, coloring books, and creative play were my happiest childhood memories. Life used to be simpler. We all used to be simpler. Friendships were made in minutes because everyone needed to talk about birthdays, favorite colors, and food. Smiles were as easy as breathing and Grandparents were superheroes. There were no bills, deadlines, or complicated relationships and it only took five minutes to get ready for the day.
A few short years later, life changed for all of us. After a childish or naïve action, we were told to “grow up.” So we did grow up and not just physically. We thought it was a rite of passage… it’s what we are all supposed to do, right? So it begins with sexy and violent media, biting comments, and bad relationships hijacking any pure thoughts, forcing us to toughen up. Reality hits sooner than we expect and we doubt every dream and question every authority. For many, the expectations of family, friends, and peers suck the simple life down the drain and a child is left naked in the bathtub, feeling dirty and let down. After innocence is beaten out of you that way, trust doesn’t come easily anymore because no one wants to get hurt.
Life is hard but we still want relationships, don’t we? We need them. So we maintain friends and family but we stuff cushions between ourselves and everyone else. The internet, cyber dating, iTech and a rapidly growing personal media market help keep us in control. We’re in-touch without too much.
According to 2011 Pew Research, over 75% of people ages 12-17 in the U.S. have a cell phone. 88% of that number text many times a day. At Cedarville University in 2010, a student research sample showed that one out of every three freshmen students sent over 100 texts a day, 3,000 texts a month, and 36,000 texts a year. As Communication Age aficionados in the 12 to 35 years of age range, we text as much as we talk and refer back to our most difficult conversations by recalling our chat history. We have more potential to be insecure face-to-face but disclose our deepest secrets to the world via Facebook.
Even researchers have taken an interest in how this effects our relationships. “We’re texting at a distance,” said Psychologist Sherry Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We’re using inanimate objects to convince ourselves that even when we’re alone, we feel together. And then when we’re with each other, we put ourselves in situations where we feel alone — constantly on our mobile devices.” (see article here) So what if our young adult life is chronicled in hundreds of online photo album archives, blogs, sms, and YouTube video channels? Sure, it’s recorded for posterity but does anyone care? Everyone knows our status but nobody knows our hearts. We discover that growing up makes life more complex but less complete.
Please tell me again… why do I need to grow up? Clearly, normal in this case isn’t always better. The Bible says we’re supposed to “Be imitators of God as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1). That means getting smarter but not because we’re digging through trash for the education: “be wise about what’s good and innocent about evil” (Romans 16:18). Jesus put it even more strongly when he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
Therefore, the saying “less is more” rings true. If we have all the intelligence of a full grown adult and none of the simple, trusting relationships that make life worth living, what good is achieved? Going back to the beginning, in this case, (being “reborn” a “new creation” [2 Cor. 5:17]) is the only way to go forward.
I Corinthians 1:27 sums it up well. “God chose the simple things of the world to confound the wise.”